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Re: Korea - 50 years ago
In a message dated 12/12/02 8:06:44 PM Pacific Standard Time, firstname.lastname@example.org writes:
The blundering Truman Era is over in Korea. But it set off future conflicts in Vietnam, Cuba, etc...
I agree with much of what you say, however a few thoughts.
Hindsight is always 20-20.
The issue in Korea, as in Europe, was containing Communist expansion. Unlike Europe though we were responding to an actual attack on a country outside of the Communist bloc.
As you observe, The Truman's administration's early policy was oriented towards the greatest threat the Soviet Union, and protecting Europe against Soviet expansion. The Far East was not very big on the US defense agenda except for protecting Taiwan and Japan. Then, as now, even we, the most powerful nation on earth militarily could not afford to fight all potential enemies of the United States at all times. We are restricted by various limiting factors, such as wealth, people, materials, a general antipathy towards military spending (except for the Reagan, and Bush administrations), and except for the same administrations, a desire to get along with most of the nations of the world, which has been a guiding philosophy of ours as world traders of goods and materials since before the beginning of our national heritage.
Truman, in tune with American civilian desires wanted to cut back defense spending after World War II and get back to producing the goods that had been stopped during the war, such as cars, and the stuff that goes with them such as rubber tires, nylon and other synthetic materials especially for women's clothing. Then there was the GI bill that provided for housing, education, and health care. He also wanted to continue the New Deal policies of FDR (he called his policies the Fair Deal).
He was convinced that we could defend the world on the cheap, with the technology and power of SAC. The USAF sold the Truman administration the concept that it could protect America by the use of SAC. It wasn't true then and it wasn't true now. The bomber barons didn't have any interest in Tactical Air operations, after the service was first created, as indicated by the untimely retirement in disgust by CG TAC, General Elwood Quesada. He commented that the Marine Corps had the best propaganda machine going, second only to Stalin's. But the USAF had by far, the best propaganda merchants. Fighting a war without having a large ground force commitment sounds good, but as Korea, Viet Nam and every war since then has proven, it ain't so.
In the late 1940's the western world, as a whole, was tired of war, from the tremendous effort that had been put forth in World War II. They were more attuned to rebuilding Europe. However, the other parts of the world were beginning to feel the growing resistance to colonial regimes.
The flawed policy of the US was not recognizing that the Communist world was not a monolithic bloc, and the failure to take advantage of that reality and to acknowledge the strong desires of the colonies to fight to come out from under the colonial powers' domination. That correlated very well with our own history. Too bad that was forgotten along the way.
As late as 1919 Woodrow Wilson claimed this as in the best interests of the world.
Point 5 of his 14 Points addressed
A free, open-minded, and impartial adjustment of all colonial claims…including
consideration of the interests of the populations concerned. [national self-
It was too bad that he didn't include emphasis on the colonies in the Middle and Far East after WWI.
The policies of Truman had nothing to do with the Viet Namese war, except to support our French ally in Viet Nam fighting against the Communist Viet Minh. Very few people in the United States are taught that FDR was against all forms of colonialism, but caved to Churchill regarding the British colonies. However, he was bound and determined not to allow the French to retake Indo China. Obviously that changed under the Truman administration. One can only wonder about how that part of the world would have evolved if FDR's position held sway.
Castro's takeover of Cuba is also something that the Truman administration had nothing to do with. Castro was an unknown at that time except for some Washington Senators baseball scouts. His bio is cited below:
Practiced law, 1950-52; Led attack on Moncada Barracks, Santiago de Cuba, 1953; Captured, imprisoned, 1953-55. Exile in Mexico and United States, 1955-56; Returned to Cuba and led armed attacks against government of Fulgencio Batista, 1956-59; Forced Batista into exile, 1959.
>>The argument I'm trying to make is, see what we did in Korea? Yeah, that was a bunch of bad policies.<<
I'm interested in what you see as the bad policies of Korea. Of course there were many made by many participants, and it would be worth the discussion and keeping the board active for a while.